What is Lean Office? Not just a 5S but value to customers.

Are you working in an office and you want a “Lean Office”?

Read below, and you will discover something interesting.

Every company has offices that perform administrative tasks.

Honestly, I bet everything I have that you have a very few numbers of administrative tasks that go smoothly.

Is not it?

This is the reason why a new branch of Lean is becoming more and more important.

They call this application “Lean Office.”

Before you go further, see this video.


Lean Office is not only 5S.

Mainly there is the confusion about the fact that you have a Lean Office when you have done the 5S.

Only doing 5S in applying Lean in the office.

This is WRONG. 

Surely the 5S is very very important and is the base for a Lean Office, but it is just the starting point.

In reality, you have to focus on the process and see where the 7 wastes are in your tasks.


What is the Lean Office?

As usual, is not easy to go for a unique definition.

Lean Office

Firstly I suggest reading our definition of what is lean to understand the basic principles.


1) Lean Office is the application of Lean Management within an office environment.

This means to set a metric, place boards and involve the team.

For example, you can set as metrics:

  • How long it takes to answer for a quotation once the customer asks?
  • What are the tasks with no value-added and how many minutes we spend to perform these tasks?
  • How many customer requests are we able to satisfy daily, monthly, yearly.

2) Lean Office is about focusing on identifying and performing the right administrative tasks with the right processes.

To understand how to define the right process, you can read our post on “how to create a Lean Process.”

3) Lean Office is to provide added value to the end-user. No added value means waste.

How to create a Lean Office

Firstly, to create a Lean Office you have to be aware of what experts say.

Lean Office 80 Waste

Lean Office Administrative Waste

This is an important first step because normally we do not see the wastes.

for example, I remember that I was forced to fill a 3 pages report on a monthly base.

Then I asked myself: “Who read this report? Who is my customer?”

Surprisingly I discovered that the customer did not read the entire report but only a quick glance on some important topic.

So, we agreed on a 1-page report with only the useful information.

It was a win-win improvement because:

  • I saved writing 2 pages that nobody cares.
  • He saved time in looking for information into a 1-page document rather than 3-pages.

Can you see the benefits?

Do you think there are some areas of your office that can be improved?


the steps I suggest are:

  1. Start to ask yourself and the team what are the value-added and non-value added steps in the process.
  2. Connect with the customers (both internal and external) to understand their needs.
  3. Set a metric and follow the steps of Lean Management.
  4. Continuously improve the process.

Lean Office Principles

In collaboration with Lean4U.net I created this video with the 3 Principle of Lean Office.


Lean Office is not only 5S!

You have to start with a 5S for sure but then you have to focus on the process and ask which are the value-added steps.

I have to underline that to map an administrative process is difficult because the information is intangible and go for different channels as:

  • Voice
  • Phone
  • Mail
  • Fax
  • etc.

So the only way to become an expert in Lean Office is to try and starting now!

Here you can find videos with Lean Office Examples.